Agriculture: Grape Pest Management Guidelines

Webspinning Spider Mites

  • Pacific spider mite: Tetranychus pacificus
  • Twospotted spider mite: Tetranychus urticae
  • Willamette spider mite: Eotetranychus willamettei
  • Description of the Pest

    The Pacific spider mite is the primary pest mite species in the San Joaquin Valley and may also be the primary pest mite in certain coastal grape-growing areas. Adult Pacific spider mite females vary from slightly amber to greenish in color. Later in the season as they go into diapause or under high population densities adult females can turn orange to reddish. Upon emergence adult Pacific spider mites are almost void of food spots. As feeding begins usually two large diffuse spots appear forward and two smaller spots appear on the rear portion of the abdomen. Pacific spider mite prefers the warmer upper canopy of the vine. Although it can cause damage early in the season, Pacific spider mite generally prefers the hotter, dryer part of the season. The Pacific mite is larger in size than the Willamette mite. Pacific spider mite forelegs are reddish in color and those of Willamette spider mite are translucent to pale yellow.

    The Willamette spider mite is pale yellow. It is often considered an early-season mite. It prefers the cooler parts of the plant and is found mostly in the shady parts of the vine. In certain areas (e.g., North Coast), during certain years or conditions, and on certain varieties, populations can persist throughout the growing season. Willamette spider mite is primarily a problem in the Salinas Valley and Sierra foothill production areas where it can cause economic damage to varieties such as Zinfandel. In the North Coast it can cause damage in early spring when shoot growth is delayed or later in the season in vines with small canopies. Willamette spider mite is seldom a pest in the San Joaquin Valley, especially on Thompson Seedless.

    The twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae, is almost identical in appearance to the Pacific spider mite except it rarely has spots on the rear of the body. It is only occasionally found on grapes in California and rarely causes damage.


    Damage specific to each species can be helpful in identification. Pacific spider mite damage begins as yellow spots. As damage progresses, dead (necrotic) areas appear on the leaves. High populations can render the leaves unfunctional with leaf burning and bronzing and copious amounts of webbing. Damage is worse along the shoulder and tops of the vine canopies. Willamette spider mite feeding in mid- or late season causes foliage to turn yellowish bronze, but usually no burn occurs unless vines are weak. In red varieties, infested leaves may turn reddish.


    Manage webspinning spider mites in a vineyard by integrating biological, cultural and chemical controls.

    Biological Control

    Many natural enemies help to control pest mite populations. The western predatory mite, Galendromus (=Metaseiulus) occidentalis, is commonly present in vineyards and can be quite effective in reducing all stages of spider mite populations. In Sonoma and Napa vineyards, the most abundant predatory mite is Typhlodromus pyri; when present in spring, it can prevent the establishment of phytophagous mites. Predatory mites are translucent to light amber, pear shaped, and quite active. The effectiveness of this predator depends upon its ability to increase its population size as the season progresses. Disruptive sprays applied early will reduce the survival of this beneficial mite. Naturally occurring predator mites will survive sulfur sprays and dusts, but released ones may not survive dusting sulfur unless they have sulfur resistance. Predator mites, including insecticide-resistant ones, are available commercially to augment populations in the field. The western predatory mite, Galendromus (= Metaseiulus) occidentalis and Neoseiulus californicus are both available for release from commercial insectaries. G. occidentalis is used most commonly in hot inland valleys and N. californicus is more adapted to very cool coastal areas. The optimal timing for releases is in the spring when spider mite populations begin to appear.

    Other predators, including sixspotted thrips (Scolothrips sexmaculatus), can also be important.

    To preserve these natural enemies, avoid using disruptive materials.

    Cultural Control

    Apply water or other materials formulated to reduce dust on roads in the vineyard. If possible, maintain resident vegetation or other cover in the vineyard middles to further reduce dust. Irrigate in a manner that will avoid stressing vines. Although overhead watering has been shown to reduce mite problems, it can also increase some disease problems.

    Organically Acceptable Methods

    Organically acceptable methods include biological and cultural control methods as well as oil or soap sprays.

    Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

    Monitor for webspinning spider mites as part of dormant and budbreak spur monitoring as described in the DELAYED-DORMANT AND BUDBREAK SAMPLING (wine/raisin grapes or table grapes) and record observations on a monitoring form (example formPDF). During rapid shoot growth, look for spider mites and predatory mites weekly on the first emerging leaves. During bloom, follow the guidelines for MONITORING INSECTS AND SPIDER MITES. When monitoring mites, note the presence of mite predators. The table below can be used in determining the treatment guidelines for various combinations of Pacific mite injury levels and predator-prey distributions in Thompson Seedless raisin vineyards. After bloom, record your observations on the insect and mite monitoring form (PDF).

    Predator-prey distribution ratios for Pacific spider mites in Thompson Seedless raisin vineyards1
    Pacific mite injury levels
    (% leaves infested) 1
    (less than 1:30)
    (1:30 to 1:10)
    (1:10 to 1:2)
    (greater than 1:2)
    light (less than 50%) delay treatment to increase predators delay treatment treatment not likely necessary treatment not necessary
    moderate (50-65%) treat if population is increasing rapidly may delay treatment to increase predation treatment may not be needed if the predator-prey distribution ratio is increasing rapidly treatment not needed
    heavy (65-75%) treat immediately may delay treatment a few days to take advantage of increasing predation treatment may not be needed if predators are becoming numerous treatment not needed, damage not increasing
    very heavy (greater than 75%) treat immediately treat immediately treat immediately unless predator-prey distribution ratio increasing very rapidly; carefully evaluate damage treatment may not be necessary if population is dropping because of very high (greater than 1:1) predator-prey distribution ratios; carefully evaluate damage
    1 Thompson Seedless vines are very vigorous and will tolerate more mite feeding than less vigorous varieties. Consequently, injury levels would be lower for other varieties, but predator-prey ratios and comments are applicable to all varieties.
    Common name Amount per acre** REI‡ PHI‡
    (Example trade name) (hours) (days)
    The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Not all registered pesticides are listed. Always read the label of the product being used.
    (Nealta) 13.7 fl oz 12 14
    (Zeal) 2–3 oz 12 14
    COMMENTS: Only apply once per season.
    (ACRAMITE 50WS) 0.75–1 lb 12 14
    COMMENTS: Only apply once per season.
    (FujiMite 5EC) 2 pt 12 14
    COMMENTS: Apply in 50 to 200 gal water with higher volumes in vineyards with dense canopies. Do not apply more than twice per season. Long-persistence miticide; toxic to predatory mites.
    (Agri-Mek SC) 1.75–3.5 fl oz 12 28
    COMMENTS: Do not make more than two applications per growing season. Dust on leaves will inhibit absorption of this material. Effectiveness is also reduced by sulfur burn on leaves. To protect honey bees, apply only during late evening, night, or early morning when bees are not present. Many emulsifiable concentrate (EC) formulations emit high amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs); use low-VOC formulations of abamectin. Agri-Mek SC must be mixed with an adjuvant to avoid illegal residues; follow the label instructions. Certain formulations emit high amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs); use low-VOC formulations. Regulations affect use for the San Joaquin Valley from May 1 to October 31, 2019.
    (Envidor 2SC) 16–34 fl oz 12 14
    COMMENTS: Only apply once per season. To protect honey bees, apply only during late evening, night, or early morning when bees are not present.
    (Onager) 12–24 oz 12 7
    COMMENTS: Only apply once per season.
    Label rates See label See label
    MODE OF ACTION: Contact including smothering and barrier effects.
    COMMENTS: For Pacific spider mite, apply before bloom to get the best coverage and to delay mite development by 3 to 4 weeks. If an additional treatment is needed, apply 2 weeks after berry set (on raisin and wine grapes only; do not use on table grapes after bloom). For Willamette spider mite, apply oil after budbreak in a 1% spray. Do not apply within 10 days of a sulfur application. Check with certifier to determine which products are acceptable in organic production.
    (M-Pede) Label rates 12 0
    MODE OF ACTION: Contact including smothering and barrier effects.
    COMMENTS: Can cause berry spotting.
    J. NEEM OIL#
    (Trilogy) Label rates 4 0
    MODE OF ACTION: Unknown. A botanical insecticide
    COMMENTS: For organically grown crops, check with your certifier for any restrictions that apply.
    (Apollo SC) 4–8 oz 12 21
    COMMENTS: Apply only once per year. More effective early in the season on eggs. If there are many adults, clofentezine is not effective. Because this material is applied early in the season, it is best used in vineyards with chronic mite problems.
    COMMENTS: Releases are most successful when host plants (green beans) are placed directly on vines. Use a minimum of 1,000 predators per acre.
    ** Apply with enough water to provide complete coverage.
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
    * Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
    # Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
    1 Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action Group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action Group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a Group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B Group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a Group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).

    Important Links

    Text Updated: 07/15
    Treatment Table Updated: 04/19